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By Myra Roldan of HerbanLuxe on Etsy

Mascara! A The staple of all beauty products – it lengthens, thickens, darkens, colors, curls and makes your eyes look absolutely fabulous. My DIY mascara formula is based on an old recipe my grandmother taught me when I was very young.

Believe it or not, the earliest historical recording of mascara dates back to the Egyptians in 4000BC, they used Kohl combined with malachite and other minerals to tint their lashes and eyebrows. They didn’t have any fancy equipment or use “icky” preservatives and chemicals in their products – they used what they had. But, as everything else in our world, Mascara has evolved and gone through several formulations to become what it is today – a chemical-laden products.

As I was planning for this post, I was originally going to share a more complex recipe, but then I remembered teaching a DIY Homemade Makeup class and the frustration so many had when it came to making mascara. So I figured why not share two of my easiest homemade vegan mascara recipes – a wet and a cake mascara. Cake mascara was all that was available for women to use between 1917 – 1957, when a squeeze tube mascara was invented.

Before we get stated, I am obligated to add a my personal disclaimer, so here it goes.

“These products are intended for personal use and has a limited shelf life – this means that it must be used within a week or two of making it and then tossed to avoid any potential contamination.”

Got it? Good! If you don’t have all the ingredients in your supply stash – don’t fret, I’ve put together aDIY Cake Mascara kit available in my Etsy Shop – Now let’s get to it.

Homemade Vegan Mascara

Your vegan mascara will have a wet consistency. Once it has sat for an hour it will dry and not be runny so it can be stored in a small jar.

What you will need:


(This will yield a enough product to fill a small container)

4 Activated Charcoal caplets (found in health food stores, Whole Foods, local pharmacies – usually found in the vitamin isle / Can be substituted with 1/4 tsp Black or Brown Iron Oxide which is less gritty but just as messy)

1/4 tsp Cornstarch (Usually found in your kitchen or get it at the grocery store / Can be substituted with 1/4 tsp serecite, titanium dioxide, rice powder or other loose powder used to make makeup)

1/2 tsp  Contact lens solution or bottled water (You can grab a small bottle at the dollar store or local stores)

3-4 drops Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil or Virgin Olive Oil (found usually in kitchen cabinets or the grocery store)

cake mascara ingredients



Small glass, metal or porcelain bowl 

Popsicle sticks 

Measuring spoon 

Small container with a lid

Old mascara brush you’ve cleaned and disinfected or a brow brush (for applying your cake mascara)

Whipping It Up!

Once you have your ingredients and equipment lined up, it’s time to roll up  your sleeves and get started – this is gonna be a messy job so I recommend wearing an apron or old tshirt and disposable gloves because Activated Charcoal is no joke.

Before you begin, clean all your containers thoroughly with hot water and soap, then wipe them down with alcohol.

Step 1

Open the 4 activate charcoal caplets and dump the contents into the glass bowl – this is by far the messiest part of this recipe.  If you are using iron oxide instead of the Activated Charcoal – scoop 1/4 tsp into the glass bowl

Activated Charcoal

Step 2

Add 1/4 tsp Cornstarch (or other powder you are using) to the bowl with the activated charcoal and blend them together by scraping and pressing against the bowl until all the cornstarch has combined with the charcoal. Be patient and be sure to get all the white blended with the black.

blend cornstarch with activated charcoal

Step 3

Once your cornstarch and charcoal are completely combined and you no longer see any white specs in your powder, it’s time to add your oil. Add 6 – 8 drops of argan oil (or whatever other oil you decide to use) to the mix and stir it up a bit

add oil

Step 4

Next, add your water and mix it all up.  Be sure to scrap the sides of your bowl – this will ensure you get it all mixed in there.  Since we are using a popsicle stick and a small quantity of product you will want to blend this for a few minutes taking time to scrape, pull and press the ingredients together as you go along.

add water

Step 5

Pour the mixture into your container and let it sit for an hour. Your finished product will be gritty because it’s the nature of activated charcoal.

pour into container

Once it has settled, That’s it – you have a wet mascara.  It will be a bit gritty, especially if you’ve used Activated Charcoal.

2013-02-15 09.58.38


Now, let’s kick this up a notch and try a second recipe.


Homemade Vegan Cake Mascara


Your cake mascara will have a solid consistency – like a hardened cake – thus the name.

What You Will Need:


You will use all the same ingredients you used for the Vegan Mascara PLUS:

1/4 tsp Calendula Wax (you can substitute with Jojoba wax or Beeswax – you can buy a beeswax lip balm at a local store and use the required quantity)

1/2 tsp Jojoba Oil (you can substitute olive oil, argan oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil  –- you can find these at a local grocery store)

Small Clean microwave safe glass bowl

Popsicle stick for stirring

Microwave (if you don’t have a microwave, you can use the double boiler method, just place a glass heat-safe bowl in a pan with water over a low flame on the stove)

Whipping it all up!

Step 1

Follow all Steps 1 – 4 for the Homemade Vegan Mascara posted above.

Step 2

In another small glass bowl add 1/4 tsp candelilla wax and 1/2 jojoba oil (or whatever wax and oil you are using) and melt in microwave on Defrost in 10 second intervals opening the door and checking your melt before putting it in for an additional 10 seconds until the wax is completely melted.  *** You want to make sure you use the defrost setting because we don’t want the oil to burn or overheat***

candelilla wax and jojoba oil

If you are using the double boiler method, place water in a pan – fill it 1/4 of the way bring water to a boil. Lower the flame and place your heat-safe glass bowl in the pan making sure the water doesn’t get into the bowl

Step 3

Once the wax is completely melted remove the bowl from the microwave and add your mascara mixture from Step 1 and mix it up well. Work quickly as the wax will begin to harden.

mix and wax


Step 4

Transfer the mascara to your container.  If the mix has hardened, put it the microwave for 10 seconds on defrost setting to make it pourable.

pour into container

Step 5

Once you have poured it into the container, place a clean paper towel over the mix and use the back of a spoon or your fingers to press it into the container. You don’t have to apply too much pressure, you must want to pack the mixture into the container.



You’ve made your very own homemade vegan cake mascara.

homemade vegan cake mascara


Basic Troubleshooting:

Q. My water and oil didn’t mix completely – what can I do?

A. When combining water with oil it has a tendency to separate.  So you should blend the oil with the dry ingredients a bit before adding water. Think “making a cake” literally.

Q. My product is too runny

A. Reduce the amount of water you add to the product. I used contact lens solution in my homemade cake mascara, but if you use bottled water you may want to reduce it down to a 1/4 tsp and then add a few extra drops until you get the consistency you want.

Q. I want my cake mascara to be darker in color

A. Easy enough just use one or two more caplets of activated charcoal or add an 1/8 tsp of black iron oxide to the mix and blend, blend, blend.

Q. My wax hardened too fast

A. You can stick it back into the microwave for an additional 10 seconds to get it back to a working consistency. Make sure your counters and stirring tools are too cold either as that will speed up the hardening process.

Q. How to I get my lashes to curl when using cake mascara

A. Curl is all in the brush. So try using different brushed to apply your mascara.

Q. How do I make my cake mascara last longer on my lashes

A. Here’s a tip I share with a lot of people – before applying your mascara dust some loose foundation or translucent powder on your lashes then apply your mascara. Works with any mascara – especially if you have oily eyelids.

Q. How do I use the cake mascara

A. Cake mascara is kind of messy – you may want to dampen your brush with warm water *** I said dampen – not soak ***, then rub your brush across the cake mascara to load your brush.


Q. How can I make a blue, brown or other color mascara?

A. You can use food grade products, just remember that your shelf-life will be only about 2 days then you have to toss it. Here are my suggestions for making different colors using food-grade ingredients (however, I would recommend using cosmetic-grade ingredients such as blue or brown iron oxide or even mica – read my reply to reader comments below (proceed at your own risk)):

  • Brown – use a dutch cocoa powder
  • Blue – Blueberry or Acai powder
  • Green – Matcha (green tea powder found in wholefoods – it’s yummy too)

Hope you have fun trying out these two recipes. Remember, the first time you make your cake mascara, it may not turn out the way you expected – but practice makes perfect. I’d love to hear your results and if you change any of the steps to make it work better for you I’d love to hear your hacks.